Mix sun, wheels for a fun Derby

By Laurel Stowell

Big crowds, sizzling heat and a few thrilling accidents made Wanganui's first Soap Box Derby a must for next year.

The course started at the top of Queen's Park, negotiated a hairpin bend and a small jump and ended, after another tight bend at the finish line, down the hill in Rutland St.

Organisers Jason Granville, Mick Paul and Leighton Minnell were well pleased with the 80 entrants in the soapbox derby and 24 in the drift trikes event. During the day they estimated at least 2500 spectators lined the streets or occupied a gazebo camp around the "pit" at the top of the hill. Barriers were erected to keep racers on the route, and stalls sold food.

The variety of wheeled contraptions was amazing, and most of them were built in Wanganui. There were parts of bicycles, parts of motor bicycles and even part of a shopping trolley. Some jalopies were decorated, and some riders wore costumes.

St John Ambulance officer Kristian Yates said there were some minor injuries, and one person was taken to hospital with a gashed finger.

It was a fun event, and Mr Minnell said all the entrants were winners.

The World's Fastest Injuns, Daniel Johnston and Lee Mallett, are both in the motor trade and work at Holdaways Ltd. Their racer was styled after Bert Munro's motorcycle and given the same number, 35.

They built a sidecar because both wanted to race. The sidecar put Mr Mallett about 8cm above the tarseal for the trip down the hill and over the jump.

"It was a pretty hard landing. It's a bit daunting the first time but once you know you can do it it's good as gold," he said.

They're planning to make changes to their vehicle before next year.

"We'd like to be able to get around the corner without crashing it," Mr Mallett said.

Wayne Pointon's line of work is lawn mowing and he drives stock cars. His son, Jake, wanted to try trike drifting, so he built a trike for each of them and they had a few spills and a lot of fun.

"I've hit the barriers quite a few times and I've gone off the ramp and lost it and ended up up upside down," he said.

Not the slightest bit put off, Mr Pointon is keen to ride again next year.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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